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Criminal Justice Reform

Date Filed

May 27, 1997

Inside Chess, Harper's, Astronomy, Writer's Digest — only a few of the hundreds of publications effectively banned in 1997 under an arbitrary policy implemented by the Alabama prison's warden. The Center sued, securing an agreement protecting inmates' rights to mailed reading materials.

Hate & Extremism

Date Filed

September 19, 2005

This is a lawsuit against four young white men who terrorized, humiliated and beat a mentally retarded African-American man, dumped his unconscious body on the side of a dark country road and left him for dead. In 2007, a jury awarded a $9 million verdict to help the family pay for the care the victim will need for the rest of his life.

Three young North Carolina black men once sentenced to die for the rape of a white woman were freed from prison in 1975 under a settlement negotiated by SPLC attorneys as their case went to trial a second time. They spent two years in the Edgecombe County jail in Tarboro, N.C., before gaining their freedom.

Children's Rights

Date Filed

February 01, 2005

The Southern Poverty Law Center, along with attorneys from the Southern Disability Law Center and the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana, obtained a class-wide settlement agreement affecting all special education students with Emotional Disturbance in Jefferson Parish.

LGBTQ Rights
Active Case

Date Filed

August 14, 2012

When Janet Jenkins’ former partner disappeared with their daughter during a lengthy custody battle, Jenkins filed a lawsuit against her and others alleging they had conspired and aided in the international kidnapping. The SPLC joined the case and, with the assistance of co-counsel, successfully...

Criminal Justice Reform
Immigrant Justice

Date Filed

February 07, 2013

When Alabama legislators revised the state’s anti-immigrant law in 2012, they passed a law requiring the state to maintain an online list of immigrants who are detained by law enforcement, who appear in court for any violation of state law, and who unable to prove they are not “unlawfully present aliens.” It provided no means for people to be removed from this “black list” if the listing is an error or if their immigration status changes. The Southern Poverty Law Center and its allies filed a federal lawsuit to stop this state-sanctioned “blacklisting” of immigrants, which could encourage harassment and violence.

Children's Rights

Date Filed

July 08, 2010

Children at Sarah T. Reed Elementary School in New Orleans were subjected to unlawful arrest and excessive force – including handcuffing and shackling – for minor violations of school rules. The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a federal class action lawsuit on behalf of a first-grade student handcuffed and shackled to a chair by an armed security officer after the student argued with another youth. A settlement agreement resulted in the school district prohibiting the use of fixed restraints and limiting the use of handcuffs.

Children's Rights

Date Filed

December 01, 2010

Students in Birmingham, Ala., schools were sprayed with pepper spray as punishment for routine offenses. The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of district students to end the practice and other abusive and unconstitutional behavior.

Children's Rights
Criminal Justice Reform

Date Filed

June 02, 2011

Children held at the Henley-Young Juvenile Justice Center in Jackson, Miss., were denied mental health services and subjected to verbal abuse and threats of physical harm by staff members. The Southern Poverty Law Center and Disability Rights Mississippi filed a class action lawsuit in June 2011 after numerous attempts to resolve the issues with county officials failed. A settlement agreement to protect youth at the facility was approved in March 2012.

Immigrant Justice
Active Case

Date Filed

July 20, 2018

The Trump administration used detained immigrant children as bait to arrest immigrants who come forward to sponsor them for release – a scheme that has left thousands of children detained in detention facilities across the country. The SPLC, the Legal Aid Justice Center, and the law firm of...

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